Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg To Undergo Tommy John Surgery
Somehow, I saw this coming. It wasn't what I was hoping would happen, but I just had a feeling this kind of news was coming.
Today, it did come. Brent Gambill, an executive producer of MLB Network Radio, is reporting that former San Diego State standout, and the first overall pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2009 Amateur Draft, Stephen Strasburg, will undergo Tommy John surgery.
Gambill, via Twitter, says the team will get a second opinion before going ahead with the surgery, which would be performed by the same doctor who did the surgery for Jordan Zimmermann.
At the beginning of the 2010 MLB season, there was a lot of talk about Strasburg being brought up to the big leagues after a short stint in the minor leagues. It wasn't something I was keen on. In fact, I was opposed to the youngster being thrown into the fire so soon after his college career.
He had never faced the kind of hitters he'd faced in college and wouldn't be used to the kind of grind that is required in the major leagues. He had already gone on the disabled list once this season, and when it was reported that he was put on the DL again, most knew something was wrong.
Though there were those who wanted to be big shots and tell the young right-hander to "suck it up and pitch," it was revealed in an MRI this morning that he had a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. That's not something a pitcher "just pitches through."
While it hasn't been decided officially by the Nationals if or when their star will undergo surgery, it seems like it's the only option with this kind of an injury.
William Ladson, who covers the Nationals for MLB.com, says Strasburg knew about the possibility of Tommy John surgery last night but did not want to make an announcement until today.
This surgery isn't a stranger to Major League Baseball. It's one that's been performed on several pitchers over the years.
However, it's a surgery that normally keeps pitchers out of baseball, even from throwing at all, for more than six months. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the injury, it could take a full year before a pitcher is back at full strength.
This is the first time the young pitcher will undergo this surgery, and you have to believe that he will lose a lot of velocity on his fastball, the velocity that made him the first overall pick in last year's draft.
It's not known just how this is going to affect Strasburg and the rest of his career. If he goes under the knife to have the ligament repaired, it will be a long road to recovery, but it's a road the Nationals need to take very seriously.
They brought him up too soon, and now they're paying the price for it. They should have shut him down long ago, especially since they were so far out of the race. They have no one to blame but themselves.
They had nothing to play for, but ticket sales were up when he pitched, so they kept running him out there.
I'm not saying the Nationals or their management mishandled Strasburg. But I do believe they might have rushed him through the minor leagues too soon because of all the hype that surrounded him.
I understand that fans get excited about a player like this, as they are already excited about their second No. 1 overall pick in Bryce Harper and want to see him in a Nationals' uniform soon, but rushing a player is a risk that a lot of teams take. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires like it has here.
SI.com's Jon Heyman spoke to a friend of Strasburg's who said the pitcher will be back for the 2012 season as good or better than he is now.
We know he will at least miss the entire 2011 season, according to that information. You have to wonder if this could have been avoided.
I have no doubt that the young right-hander will work as hard as he can to come back from this injury and be stronger for it. He'll learn the hard way what it takes to keep his arm in shape.
Who knows, maybe this was the best thing for him. Not to go under the knife, but to learn just what it takes to perform at the highest level of baseball, all while staying as healthy as he possible can.
How or when he comes back is something we'll have to wait and see. Maybe, by the time he's ready to return to the starting rotation, Bryce Harper may be close to making his debut. Though that's a little unlikely at this point.
Strasburg is a talented young pitcher with a bright future ahead of him. This might be a hard lesson, but one that may help him throughout his career.
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